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Magazine editor faces defamation lawsuit for alleging corruption by parliamentarian

(MISA/IFEX) - On 9 July 2007, the editor of the privately-owned "Nation" magazine, Bheki Makhubu, was sued for E3.5 million (approx. US$500,000) by a Member of Parliament for alleged defamation of character.

The MP, Marwick Khumalo, an ex-journalist and also a member of the Pan African Parliament, claims to have been defamed by an article Makhubu wrote and published in the June edition of the "Nation" magazine.

In the article in question, Makhubu alleged that Khumalo and two of his business cronies, including a Cabinet Minister, tried to win a government pharmaceutical tender through corrupt means.

The tender for the supply of drugs to government hospitals and clinics was eventually suspended, resulting in the near collapse of the health sector as government health services grounded to a halt with the hospitals and clinics unable to provide drugs to patients.

Parliament then instituted a probe which fingered Khumalo as one of those responsible for the crisis through alleged corrupt means.

Makhubu, in his article in the June edition of his magazine, criticised the MP and his business associates for their alleged corrupt behaviour and even dared them to sue him for his opinion.

In a statement this week, Makhubu said he was not intimidated by the lawsuit and told Khumalo: "We will meet in court".

The case is yet to be heard in court.

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